Notice of Philip’s death briefly on display outside Buckingham Palace

Laura Elston and Laura Parnaby, PA
·2-min read

The Duke of Edinburgh’s death was confirmed with the age-old tradition of placing a notice on the railings of Buckingham Palace.

A brief bulletin, on paper set in a foolscap imperial-sized dark wooden frame, is used to notify the public of key royal events such as births and deaths.

But because of the coronavirus pandemic, the notice has already been taken down to prevent crowds forming during the pandemic.

Usually, the statement, which was put in place by Royal Household staff wearing black face masks, would have remained in place for 24 hours.

Duke of Edinburgh death
The sign announcing the death of the Duke of Edinburgh (Ian West/PA)

Around 30 people initially began queuing to read the sign, before four police officers on horses stopped the crowds from gathering.

The statement, which was headed with a royal crest and the words Windsor Castle, read: “It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen has announced the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

“His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.

“Further announcements will be made in due course

“The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss.

“Friday, April 9 2021.”

Duke of Edinburgh death
Metropolitan Police officers on horseback observe as members of the media gather outside Buckingham Palace (Ian West/PA)

When the Queen Mother died in 2002, a statement on headed Buckingham Palace notepaper, which features a royal crest, was posted on the gates.

A police officer stood guard over the glass fronted frame, which is usually fixed to the outside of the iron railings by two small metal chains on the back.

The deaths of George VI and George V were also announced this way.

The announcement of the death of the Queen Mother
The announcement of the death of the Queen Mother in 2002 (PA)

For a sovereign, a notice is also placed on the railings of the house in which they died.

The traditional method of delivering royal news was used for, among other occasions, Prince William’s birth in 1982 and Peter Phillips’ in 1977.

When the Queen gave birth to Prince Andrew in 1960, some 2,000 people crowded around the railings to see the official confirmation.

For each of the births of Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis of Cambridge, as well as their cousin Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, the same wooden frame was used to highlight their arrivals.

Prince George's birth notice
The Queen’s Press Secretary Ailsa Anderson with Badar Azim, a footman, place the notice to announce the birth of a baby boy to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2013 (PA)

But on those occasions, the frame was placed on an ornate golden easel on the forecourt of the palace, inside the railings.

Announcements used to be hand-written but now are mostly typed.